German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today when she went to survey the disaster that the “surreal” conditions in the flooded areas left her quite shocked. In Western Europe, the floods have killed at least 184 people, and dozens more are still missing.
Wearing hiking boots, Merkel went to the hardest-hit village of Schuld in the Rhineland-Palatinate state to survey the disaster. She did not forget to touch fists with the local search and rescue personnel, to cheer them on.
Merkel is retiring from politics after the September election. Local residents told her that high water levels in the Ahr river, a tributary of the Rhine, washed away many houses and left the streets littered with broken bricks and tiles.
Merkel told reporters, “It’s a surreal, bizarre situation… It’s very shocking – I can almost say there are no words in German to describe the devastation caused by the flooding.” She also pledged to provide aid as soon as possible to help rebuild the area.
German police said the floods, the worst in German public memory, have claimed at least 157 lives since the 14th.
In Rhineland-Palatinate alone, 110 people have died and 670 have been injured. At least 27 people have also died in neighboring Belgium as a result of the floods.